Practice Activity: Using Data to Inform Instruction and Staff Development
Examine student work to inform instruction

Only when teachers know where their students are in relation to the objectives they are responsible for teaching do they have the information they need to inform instruction. The following protocol was developed to help teachers

  • Identify characteristics of proficiency on an objective using a specific assignment/assessment
  • Diagnose student strengths and needs on the performance
  • Determine next instructional steps based on the diagnosis

The Protocol for Examining Student Work has two distinct but related parts. In the first part of the protocol, a team of teachers work through the process of reaching consensus on what the team believes constitutes a proficient response on a selected text and question. Only after the team has agreed on what constitutes a proficient response are they able to diagnose student strengths and needs.

Once proficiency has been defined, the team is ready to examine student performance against your proficiency criteria. In the second part of the protocol, the team examines three student papers to determine if the response is proficient and to identify strengths, needs and instructional next steps.

A pre-requisite to interpreting student work is a clear understanding of what you are looking for. What does a proficient response look like? What exactly do your students need to know and still need to learn? It is not enough that an individual teacher defines proficiency. It is critical that at least a grade level team has reached consensus on the definition of proficiency to ensure that all students are held to the same performance expectations.

Teachers must shift their mindset from scoring (a summative examination) to diagnosing (a formative examination) student performance. In many cases teachers have spent a great deal of time sorting student responses (either by letter grades or by rubric scores) and virtually no time diagnosing what students know and still need to learn. It is only the diagnostic information that will help teachers understand what they need to do next instructionally with their students.

Local school teams and/or district staff developers may wish to use these videos, audios, and handouts to model and build capacity on how to use the protocol.

National Experts

"To assess student achievement accurately, teachers and administrators must understand the achievement targets their students are to master."
Stiggens, Richard J.

"The practice of having teachers work together to study student work is one of the most promising professional development strategies in recent years."
Joan Richardson

Course Overview Module 4 Overview Workshop 5 Overview Workshop Activity site map mdk12